The waters off Newport will be a busy place for the next nine days as the New York YC Race Week, sponsored by Rolex, takes place. The first part of Race Week will begin Saturday morning at 11 for the handicap classes and two lonely 12-Meters. A little under 70 boats, ranging from Constance Mussells’ J/27 Flyer to Tom Hill’s 68-foot Titan XII, will be racing under IMS, PHRF, and Americap II.
In the 12-meter class, only two of the many 12s that call Newport home have opted to come out and play, but they’re two of the very best 12-Meter programs in the U.S. The crew of Fred Van Liew’s Fiddler, nee America II, has put in plenty of time on the boat and Van Liew is an experienced, aggressive helmsman. Edgar Cato’s Hissar, nee KZ-5, is one of the two Plastic Fantastics built by New Zealand for the 1987 Cup, and may well be the fastest 12-Meter in the world. Cato spares no expense when it comes to his Hissar programs and the crew list and sail selection will reflect that. This should be a hard fought series.
The IMS-40 class has left their Western Long Island Sound haunts and will tackle the open waters of Rhode Island Sound. These boats all rate in a very narrow band–between 558 and 561.6–and as a class, boast some very competitive sailing. Top players in this class will most likely be Steve Loeb’s Tripp 43 Sirena, and Bill Felton’s Tripp 41 Montana, but don’t count out any of the other entrants.
The IMS Racing division should be interesting. Tom Hill’s Titan XII should get every gun but may have a hard time correcting out against Joe Dockery’s CM60 Carrera and a pack of snarling IMS 50s. Carrera will be well stocked with talent, including Chris Larson on the helm and Moose McClintock in the afterguard. But both large boats’ crews should be looking nervously over their shoulders at the pack of hungry fifty-footers behind. Idler, Javelin, Canvasback, and Uarshek II will be continuing the battle begun at last year’s IMS Mid-Atlantics in Annapolis and continuing through Key West and the SORC. Idler‘s been the steady winner so far, thanks to a lot of time in the aircraft for the crew, but Javelin and Canvasback have been steadily ramping up the pressure and may well topple the king.
The PHRF fleet is 34 boats strong and has a lot of diversity. Chris Bouzaid’s Thompson 30 Wairere and Tim Woodhouse’s Thompson 35 Rumours, will be tearing around at high rates of speed under their huge asymmetric kites while sailors on symmetric-rigged boats hope that the sportsboat drivers have more visibility than it appears. The Thompson boats should do well, but with Farr 395s, a couple of Aerodyne 38s, and the Espositos doing their normally expert job on the J/29 Hustler, the PHRF classes will be no walkover for anyone. It would also be foolish to discount boats such as Sam Fortenbraugh’s Swan 51 Syrocco, which has earned itself more than a little first-place silver in the past few years.
Fifteen boats have elected to sail in the dually-scored PHRF and Americap II fleet and as much as wed like to make a call about who looks strong, were not familiar enough with the Americap II handicapping system. But a class with a Farr 395, a Swan 55, and a Quest 31 in the mix pretty much guarantees some interesting results.
In the Americap II division, all eyes will be on Stars & Stripes a R/P 50 sailed by Dennis Conner, a drapery executive from San Diego who knows a thing or two about racing off Newport. Not to be counted out of this class by any means is Udo Schroff, helming his new IMX 40, Amadeus. Schroff, who in the past, has taken great delight in beating big names with his IMX 38 by the same name, could well be what stands between DC and the win.
Racing for the handicap fleet will go through next Tuesday. Wednesday is a short–six hours or less–distance race open to any boat in the handicap or One-design fleets that care to enter. On Thursday, the 1D35, Farr 395, Farr 40, J/105, J/120, J/35, J/44, J/80, Melges 24, and Mumm 30 fleets begin racing with a schedule that takes them through Sunday. Race Week also will serve as the 1D35 East Coast Regional Championship, Mumm 30 North American Championship, and the J/35 New England Championship.
Results for all the series and classes will be on www.nyyc.org.